Why Hiking is Good for Mental Health
Written By: SportsShoes
Hiking in the great outdoors means adventure, stunning scenery and great physical exercise. But that’s not all! Breathing clean, fresh air and being at one with nature in beautiful surroundings, offers a number of benefits for our mental health and wellbeing.
Here’s how hiking is good for mental health.
Hiking helps us unplug & switch off
Modern day technology means we live in an “always on” culture. Whether it’s constantly checking work emails or dealing with other issues on the go, it’s becoming harder and harder to escape the pressures of modern life. Heading out for a day’s hike means a mental break and relief from those stresses. You can’t reply to an email and take in beautiful scenery at the same time, nor as you summit a mountain. Even if you could, you’re not likely to have a mobile reception in remote areas, meaning a total escape from everyday life and its pressures.
Green exercise boosts mood
Regular exercise is shown to have a profound effect on our mental health, with some studies even finding exercise equally as effective at treating depression as medication. Physical exercise helps us sleep better, reduces stress, anxiety and depression and boosts overall mood. What’s more, a growing body of evidence suggests that “green exercise” in nature amplifies this effect, delivering a serious mental pick-me-up.
Hiking reconnects us with nature
Whether it’s taking in fresh air, beholding stunning mountain views or hiking along trails dappled with sunshine and birdsong, hiking helps to put us back in touch with our primary senses and brings us closer to nature and our immediate surroundings. This gives us a mental “time out” and promotes a calmer, more tranquil state of mind.
Hiking boosts our confidence
Hiking means making an effort and purpose, whether that’s hiking up a mountain, crossing tricky terrain or navigating to a destination. That, in turn, means focus and a deserved sense of achievement as well as a boost to our self-esteem when we successfully achieve those goals.
Hiking makes us feel alive
Taking in vast, beautiful and remote scenery with the breeze in our hair and sun on our face is exhilarating, makes us feel at one with the world and gives us a renewed sense of perspective. Many hikers report back on a sense of being a part of something much larger than our everyday existence. That feeling of “being alive” and in the moment gives us distance from everyday worries and stresses and, guaranteed they’ll seem far less significant or worrisome at the end of your hike.
So, what are you waiting for? Grab your hiking boots and head for the outdoors. Your mind and body will thank you for it.